Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How to Make Yourself Keep Blogging

You don't want to blog today. Anything but that. Cleaning the file cabinet (which has papers growing out of it like Mel Gibson's beard) seems preferable. Wait until tomorrow. Nobody cares if you don't update. Why'd you start this blog, anyway?

Yes, I've been there. I'm sure my fellow bloggers have too. Many times. When it comes, my fellow bloggers look for a way to kick themselves into gear. My fellow writers seek new ways to inspire themselves.

Fear not! The Blue Ferret has come with a formula to save you!

Okay, more like a potential solution in four aspects. Your mileage may vary.

A way to make yourself keep blogging is to generate an environment that promotes blogging interest. It's a little more specific than a "quiet space" or "meditation area," and there are distinct characteristics.

Your "blog-motivation environment" has to do two things:
   1. Rekindle your motivation to write and share ideas.
   2. Provide you with inspiration to create those ideas.

Four aspects of your blog-motivation environment - and hence your blog - are that it should be:

Digestible. Unless you're writing a novel via blog or putting lists up one number at a time (in which case your readers will hate you), your blogging is going to come in chunks. Each post needs to encapsulate a single idea or position.

These ideas have to be portable - your audience needs usable stuff. Tips, lists, tools. Whole concepts from beginning to end. Now, the best way I manifest this "chunking" idea in my thought patterns is to have my blog-motivation environment someplace I also use for other things.

Crash out in bed and stare at the wall. Go for a walk. Visit a store you like. The mental state of "I go here to do this normally, but now I'm here to do this other thing" seems to compartmentalize my thoughts. When ideas pop up, they're quickly bunched into a whole unit like a crumpled foil ball.

Writing copy isn't pretty sometimes, folks.

Regular. Updating once in a while - or worse, "when I feel like it" - spells death for blogs. A regular schedule, posting at least twice a week (4-5 posts/week seems to get even more attention), cannot be undervalued.

Frankly, this is the hardest part for me. And I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

I take two steps to nudge myself into keeping a blogging schedule:
a. Regular alerts. Automatically remind yourself of the days and times for blogging. Google Calendar can do this, along with your PDA, cellphone, Outlook, and automatic email reminder systems. I use my PDA - it has very noisy beeps.

b. Write up a profile of one of your audience's members. Marketers call this a specific target market. Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero wrote up an excellent method to determine this audience member's (or "tarket," as she calls them) profile in her Red Hot Copy Newsletter last year.

Print this profile out. Stick it someplace easy to grab. On the appointed day, refer to it. Ask yourself, "What can I tell this person today?" The answer(s!) might surprise.

Creativity good. Distractions bad. Might be self-explanatory, but I do want to add a caveat when it comes to blog writing. Don't focus too much. The mind should be free to wander around the topics it finds. Writing about writing every time will quickly get old without shaking your brain up a bit. That means not too many distractions, but some you're aware of beforehand are okay. They can nudge your brain into corners it might have avoided.

You'll definitely want to avoid the unfamiliar kind of distraction, though. Traffic, for example, is a distraction you can't predict. Guaranteed to get you off-track (no pun intended). Your blog environment should be clear of unforeseen elements. Lock your door.

Reading-based. Yep, the old paperback. Keep at least one book in your blogging environment. I prefer two, myself - double your chances for an idea. Plus, you can bounce concepts from one book to another and come up with a tangent.

As another reading example, observe my blogtip about assumptions to avoid when emailing. I read a lot of email - clients, newsletters, etc. The BlogTip arose from the mass of emails in my inbox like a ghost clawing its way out from the grave.

Your audience is helpful here. Like it or not, you're writing to a specific audience. If you don't define it, they will for you. For instance, my audience with this blog is twofold: fellow writers/marketers, and mid-market/enterprise company VPs. I make it a point to read what they read. Find what they like to read about. A little time and digging is all it takes. Ideas will burst out of their news, their commentaries, and even their silence.

Hmmm, maybe there's an easy way to remember all this. Acronym time? Digestible, Regular, Focus, Reading-based...DRFRb.

Drfrb. Sounds like you're shouting "deferred" through a gag. Oh well. Can't win 'em all.

I can claim a small victory for these blogging-motivation procedures, though. The entire thing came to me when I woke up from a nap and scrambled for a notepad.

Why was I napping? I needed some motivation to blog that day.

See if they work for you.



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